0

Pm Eases The Pain (For Some) On Bills

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

AS public discomfort continues over the spike in electricity costs, the government will temporarily increase the value added tax exemption ceiling on Bahamas Power and Light bills, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced yesterday.

Parliament has to approve the measure first, then the VAT exempt ceiling will increase to $300 per month until the end of next June. 

This change will be made effective next month and be seen in BPL’s January billing cycle.

The ceiling for VAT exemption on electricity bills was set at $200 during the 2018-2019 budget debate earlier this year.

Noting the undue burden electricity costs have put on citizens, Dr Minnis further assured Bahamians that he remained resolute regarding the need for this country to substantially reduce its energy costs.

Pledging his government would continue to explore the cost of energy, the prime minister said a substantial transition to solar and other renewable energy supplies will be made.

“Given the circumstances that have given rise to the temporary spike in the fuel surcharge component of consumers’ electricity bills, the government is mindful of the impact that this increase has on all Bahamians but especially on the poorest and most vulnerable,” Dr Minnis said yesterday in the House of Assembly.

“This situation is a legitimate issue for every Bahamian. However, there are a small few who are seeking to make political mischief out of a serious situation who know full well the set of circumstances that have built up over several decades that have led us to this point – and who also know that this administration is the one that is putting in place the plan to address it.”

He continued: “You would recall that the government in the 2018-2019 budget provisions made allowance that would exempt Bahamians whose monthly bills were under $200 from the payment of VAT. This was and remains a deliberate policy initiative to assist Bahamians of modest means.

“This recent temporary spike in fuel surcharge has unfortunately put a number of the qualifying customers over the $200 threshold. Thus, I today advise the honourable House that the government will be moving an amendment to the law to allow for a temporary increase in the VAT exempt ceiling from $200 a month up to $300 per month through the end of the fiscal year – that being June 2019.”

He said changing trends in the cost of the delivery of electricity will inform any decision to extend the increased exemption ceiling into the new fiscal year, beginning July 2019.

Dr Minnis also told House members he requested Works Minister Desmond Bannister, who has responsibility for BPL, and the power provider’s team to review and report to Cabinet the full range of options to the government to address this temporary spike in electricity bills.

Fires at BPL’s Clifton Pier Power Plant in September have led BPL officials to rely heavily on the Blue Hills Power Plant from where, he said, 70 megawatts of power are being syphoned to satisfy a generation deficit.

The prime minister highlighted this issue explaining the Blue Hills plant uses a more expensive fuel than the Clifton facility. However, he said, Mr Bannister, who was absent from yesterday’s sitting, is expected to make a full report on energy matters.

Earlier this week, the minister blamed international gas prices for the escalating cost of electricity, but, he said, BPL has worked out interim solutions until Bahamians begin to reap rewards from the Shell North America agreement.

Mr Bannister at the time refused to go into great detail about burdensome electricity costs and when there could be some relief, but insisted the power provider had been forced to grapple with issues out of its control.

Last Friday, the country was said to be one step closer to lower energy bills and more stable electricity generation with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between BPL and Shell North America for an integrated LNG gas-to-power project.

However, it is not clear whether consumers will feel the impact of the company’s transition to liquefied natural gas this term as the project, which features a 220-250 megawatt (MW) power plant is not slated to be completed until the “early 2020’s”.

Shell officials were also unable to offer any estimates as to how much it planned to invest on the project, stating it was too early to tell.

Comments

Dawes 1 week, 1 day ago

Fix BPL, don't do this band aid stuff which doesn't help most people. Fix it, which should have been done by all your predecessors. If we could reduce our BPL bills by 50% imagine the economic activity this would lead to on productive items. But i expect nothing will happen in the short term as everyone working out how to get their piece of the pie. If you were really serious you would make it legal for all to go off grid and for BPL to buy off these people any excess they have.

3

DonAnthony 1 week, 1 day ago

I agree with you 100%. I live in Long Island and I would like to put up sufficient solar panels to cover my entire energy needs. I would even be willing to go beyond 100% so that I could sell clean energy back to BPL, but I am limited to a mere 4kw because they do want Bahamians off the grid or generating clean energy, they want us to be shackled to an inefficient monopoly BPL forever. Worse yet is the paperwork. I understand not even the very first application to put in solar has been forwarded from BPL offices in Long Island to URCA to be approved. All to enslave Bahamians to govt owned BPL. This is over a YEAR. This govt words are worthless when talking about renewable energy. A total SHAM, not even worth the breath used to utter them. We are mired in the inefficient past. I am very angry and intend to raise this issue with my parliamentary representative.

2

DDK 1 week, 1 day ago

This Government, like its predecessor, is the personification of clueless and inefficient. As for bandaids, they must import them by the container!

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 1 day ago

If this bozo of a PM and his inept Minister of Finance had truly cared about easing the people's pain they would have never hiked VAT by 60% from 7.5% to 12%. These idiots have no idea how much it costs the taxpayers in terms of added administrative costs each time they have to roll or dial back their earlier foolishness, even if only partially. LMAO

2

licks2 1 week, 1 day ago

Childish as usual. . .foolish at best!! Based on your reasoning they would have had to known that we were going to encounter this dilemma with light bills. . .since them nor you have clairvoyant skills you make very little common sense!! So now you are requesting that they go "backwards" to fix this problem. . .a problem that will create another problem after we go backwards to solve a current problem. . .so then if we "solve the current problem". . .then we will have two problems to deal with later on down!! See how lost and nonsensical you are reasoning?

0

ThisIsOurs 1 week, 1 day ago

Not really. They wouldnt have had to have "known". What they needed to do was "plan".

In that planning they would have had to have done an elusive practice some from far away lands call risk analysis. They would have sat around the table and thrown out every worse case scenario they coukd think of. One of those obvious worse case scenarios is one of the engines goes down and never comes back up. Funny enough I and probably 100,000 other bahamians thought of that scenario after the great 12 hour blackout followed by the equally great post hurricane month without electricity

You FNM people need to get down on your people to first find qualified people for these critical posts, being "smart" is not enough. You need wisdom and experience so you dont do things like spend one million dollars to send three guys to court over a $2000 fire hydrant and the court orders you to rehire them, so you dont do things like order an engine restarted and it burns up. Their lack of planning and cronyism is putting all of our lives and livlihoods in great peril.

This has nothing to do with a crystal ball, it has to do with job qualifications

0

ThisIsOurs 1 week, 1 day ago

And remember that burning up the engine wasnt the first sign of trouble. The first was the VSEP. Heastily organized and executed to be followed a few weeks later by oops we cant function without those people. Someone need to tell us how these engines work. What Melanie Gibson call it? The absence of "institutional knowledge"

0

TheMadHatter 1 week, 1 day ago

"Parliament has to approve the measure first, then the VAT exempt ceiling will increase to..."

Parliament? Oh, you mean your lackeys who you expect to vote yes on anything you put in front of them?

"Given the circumstances that have given rise to the temporary spike in the fuel surcharge..."

Circumstances? Oh, you mean the 4 fires that were set by aliens in a flying saucer?

Thank goodness i am skilled at interpretation or i wouldn't understand the words coming out of his mouth.

1

licks2 1 week, 1 day ago

People I too am dang mad for this "muddle" created by this "BPL assault" on the finances of the people. . .especially the "lil man" who cannot. . .I say cannot absorb this outrageous hike in energy charges!! Imagine from a light bill of $120 to $500. . .just for fuel! THIS MUST NOT AND CANNOT STAND!! I ESTIMATE THAT ABOUT 95% OF OUR ENERGY CONSUMERS CAN NOT SUSTAIN THIS UNCONSCIONABLE HIKE AND WILL BE CUT OFF. . .THIS WILL RESULT IN AN ECONOMIC DISASTER!! THIS IS LIKE TAKING THE WHEELS OFF AND SELLING THEM FROM THE NEW CAR TO BUY GAS TO PUT IN THE CAR!!! THEY ARE ASKING US TO CONSERVE ENERGY. . .I AM HOME LATE AT NIGHT AND LEAVES EARLY NEXT MORNING. . .MY HOUSE IS EMPTY ALL DAY. . .WITH EVERYTHING OFF. . .YET NOW MY BILL DON'T GO DOWN! ONLY WAY I CAN CONSERVE NOW IS TO COME OFF THE GRID ALTOGETHER!!

So lets stop talking nonsense and come up with some sound and cogent solutions. . .NO STUPID POLITICAL NONSENSE. . .THIS IS SERIOUS. . .

1

Islangal1 1 week, 1 day ago

I agree! All he's doing is talking nonsense!

0

ThisIsOurs 1 week, 1 day ago

Heres some sound advice, go ask them to find a qualified CEO and board for an electrical power plant. If you want to understudy some people fine. We cannot afford a CEO who burns up an engine causing our bills to triple.

Next find some real world trained economists with economic modelling experience to fill the top posts at finance. Then you wouldnt be scratching your head asking us what to do.

The most frightening thing about this entire scenario is after this affair is over these guys can claim "5 years experience"

0

DDK 1 week, 1 day ago

Why do these people insist on calling the excessive electrical rate "fuel surcharge"? Are they so useless they cannot even call the charge what it is, an unreasonably high utility rate? Calling it fuel surcharge does nothing to ease the burden on the consumer and the cost of living in this country.

Any real word on the three BEC fires or have they been swept under the table??

0

TalRussell 1 week, 1 day ago

Ma comrades this is Intentional distraction smoke screens orchestrated by republican strategists working deep behind the policeman's guarded doors the PMO.
Not single blog how Imperial red cabinet's greed is now after $100 million sitting in dormant bank accounts.... StreetCornersTalk has it as the reds move forward with their secretly prepared plans for early 2019 introduce income tax on working classes - they will force banks reveal personal banking information on THOUSANDS banks customers financiasl stuff ,,,,, be's the reds way show their love and appreciation for the 91,409 voting 35 red shirts candidates 10 May 2017. { Can't just make this up }.

0

ohdrap4 1 week, 1 day ago

the exemption onthe bill is foolish. what they should do is zero-rate bpls fuel to reduce the bill and thus benefit everyone. but they are greedy.

0

birdiestrachan 1 week, 1 day ago

roc wit doc caused the PAIN IN THE FIRST PLACE.. Now the Savior of the

of the Bahamas

says he is easing Pain. It is all good for the peoples time voters

0

The_Oracle 1 week ago

The shifting sands of Government/BEC/BPL/works/URCA"policy" on Solar is ridiculous, and the #1 barrier to widespread adoption. Probably easier to put up panels on the West Bank or Gaza Strip! Certain aspects of the policy are already obsolete in any case given the re-direction of the industry in the first world. They are still trying to figure out how to "control" Alt energy from 10 years ago.

0

bogart 1 week ago

EXCELLENT...,!!!!......We da pore people can use erry bit a help.......erry lil bit helps.....tings hard enuff as it is.....real dead bad fer plenty a us.......best we get it now than two weeks bef fore election when dey also start paving da road...mind you roads gettin pave even though some places dey coudda do a better job cause it gats puddleswhen it rains...... .... garbage truvk coming regular now an most all the traffic lights working properly....knock on wood.....

0

effectsandcause 1 week ago

In these instances, the millionaires in cabinet are greedy and selfish (including past administrations). They would never implement any tax/fee/contribution that would directly affect themselves or their special interest foreigners; they prefer the working class and small businesses be taxed to death. Get mad Bahamas!

0

Sign in to comment